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Show Me Your Shelves: Josh Myers

Josh Myers is a cool guy who likes to read and write books, so we got along from the start. After reading Feast of Oblivion, published by Copeland Valley Press in 2012, I wanted more of his fiction. He said he was working on something. That was good…for a while. Then I got impatient and started pestering him about it. In retaliation, he took his sweet time. Whatever. The point is that GUNS is almost here, and talking about it was the perfect opportunity to also ask Josh to show us his shelves. Dig it.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I’m Josh, a guy from New Jersey who occasionally writes a book or two.

I love books to pieces. When I was young, my parents always encouraged me to read, no matter how weird the books were that I was drawn to. In grade school, my first few teachers had a deep love of books, and they really helped to instill that in me early on. And having become friends with a bunch of really talented writers over these past few years, man…it’s just the best. These are all people who share that deep, deep love of books. When I meet up with most of my friends, one of the first questions asked is, “So what have you been reading?”
There’s just something so great about a book that you can’t get from any other medium. I mean, I love movies and a fair amount of TV, but give me a book any day. I’m literally surrounded by them. There are books on all four walls of my room, and they bleed out into the rest of the house. Sometimes I worry about the shelves over my bed giving way and burying me under books, but in the grand scheme of things…is it really such a bad way to go?
[Flash forward to 2022: Josh Myers dies under a pile of books, last words reported to be, “Oh jeez, I was wrong, this blows.”]

If you had to get a tattoo of a cover, what cover would it be and why?

You mean besides this one?

I got this for a few reasons. One is obviously because I’m a big fan of Andersen Prunty. He’s one of my favorite writers, and a damn nice guy. But I also just really love that design. Brandon Duncan an insanely talented dude, and he absolutely killed it with the FUCKNESS cover. And it sort of speaks to my own slightly skewed sense of patriotism.

But back to the question.
Right off the top of my head, probably Matthew Revert’s HOW TO AVOID SEX. The book is so damn impressive, and I love that image on the cover. Plus, I imagine it would translate really well as a tattoo. So well, in fact, that it might end up happening sometime.
And I don’t think I need to tell anybody at this point what an incredible designer Matt is. His covers always blow me away. But his writing, too, is just extraordinary. I think a lot of people overlook that because of his stellar design work. I really believe the guy is one of the best writers going, though. I mean, have you read BASAL GANGLIA?
(Side note: I actually do plan on getting a tattoo of an image from Matt’s novel, THE TUMOURS MADE ME INTERESTING pretty soon.)

Desert island cliché question: you can only take ten books. Go.

That’s not fair and you know it.
I’m sure that five minutes after I send this I’ll think, “Oh nuts, I really should’ve included THIS, or THAT,” but as of right now (4:03 pm EST, 4/5/14), my desert island books are as follows:

CATCH-22 – Joseph Heller: I don’t think I can say anything about this that hasn’t already been said much better by someone else. One of my all-time favorites.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS – Kurt Vonnegut: As the asterisk tattoo on my arm will attest, I’m a pretty big fan of Vonnegut. It’s hard to pick just one of his books, but I think the overall madcap spirit of this one might just be my favorite. Then again, talk to me tomorrow and I’ll probably tell you CAT’S CRADLE.

BASAL GANGLIA – Matthew Revert: Buy. This. Book. Crushingly gorgeous stuff. One of the best I’ve read in years. I feel like it’s a book I’ll end up reading quite a few times throughout my life.

THE COMPLETE STORIES – Flannery O’Connor: Do I really need to explain this? O’Connor was, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most brilliant writers to have ever lived. And while I was tempted to pick WISE BLOOD, this is 550 pages worth of her genius.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE – Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I enjoy a lot of Young Adult fiction, and I enjoy a lot of so-called “queer” fiction, so when one of my best friends recommended this, I bought it the next day. It’s an incredibly beautiful book. I can’t sing its praises enough.

THE DOOM MAGNETIC! TRILOGY – William Pauley III: Because sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned out-and-out weird action fun. Plus, it’s three books in one, so, technically, I WIN.

BLEEDING SHADOWS – Joe R. Lansdale: To be honest, I haven’t actually read this yet. But I’m a huge fan of Lansdale, and this is nearly 500 pages of stories and novellas. Should keep me grinning for a while.

LYNCH ON LYNCH – ed. Chris Rodley: If I can’t watch any David Lynch movies on this desert island, at least I can re-read this and get glimpses into the man’s brain.

ELMER GANTRY – Sinclair Lewis: Opening lines: “Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk.” Total genius, and criminally underrated.

ROLE MODELS – John Waters: Maybe my favorite ever non-fiction book. Even if you don’t like his films (and boy oh boy, I DO), you can’t help loving John Waters. He’s a true inspiration. A saint for all the outsiders and minorities of minorities. This book could very well be my bible.

Are you answering this interview drunk? What role do you think boozing has played in your career?

I wasn’t when I started.

and

Not much until recently. With the next book I’m working on, I started taking a notebook to my favorite bar (Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope, PA) and jotting down notes while drinking beer. It’s surprisingly effective. It’s also a really good excuse to go drink.
Actually, wait.
Yeah, no, I’m wrong.
And maybe drunk.
Okay, so I live next to my grandparents, and most afternoons I go have a beer or two in the garage with my grandfather. During the writing of GUNS, starting in the very early stages, I would get ideas from the stories he would tell me from his youth (Catholic school, crazy relatives, etc) while we were having beers and shooting the shit. This was back when GUNS was still really rough ideas. From drinking with my grandfather, I got a character I really love, and a bunch of other things I can’t talk about without spoiling.
So I guess boozing HAS had a role in my “career” already.
Thanks, beer!

Your next book took a while. Why did you make us wait so long? What were you reading while you wrote it? Do you hate us?

I made you wait because I like to feel important.
No, that’s not the case at all. I’m just a really slow writer. My work ethic when it comes to writing is pretty awful. And I wasn’t really used to writing something as straightforward as this story had to be, so there was a frequent feeling of “this isn’t working”. I very nearly gave up a few times. For a while I was pretty much resigned to the fact that the book wouldn’t be done until 2015. If not for the fact that Justin was already working on the art at that point, and if it weren’t for the group of friends who have been supporting me, this book definitely wouldn’t be finished right now. Hell, it probably would’ve been totally abandoned and I’d be drinking myself into oblivion.
But thanks to those people, what I have now is a book I am incredibly proud of. A book that I can shake in peoples’ faces while I drink myself into oblivion.

I was reading a lot of crime fiction while I wrote this one. Not exclusively, not by a long shot. But as it’s a crime story, it felt appropriate. Although I love crime fiction anyway, so I probably would’ve been reading the same things regardless.
As far as crime, I know I went through a ton of Ken Bruen and obviously Lansdale, some Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Duane Swierczynski (a huge influence), Wallace Stroby, George V. Higgins, a few Hard Case Crime books, a touch of Derek Raymond, and James Sallis.
Beyond that, I was honestly reading quite a bit of YA. So maybe that odd dichotomy shows up in the book. Or maybe I’m drunk.

Yes I do.

In 3k words or less, answer the following question: why should we go out and buy GUNS?

Because Justin Coons and I have put in a whole lot of effort over the last year and a half to make this thing the best it can be.
Because it’s loaded with violence and vengeance.
Because Justin’s artwork is goddamn beautiful.
Because Matthew Revert’s cover design makes me so happy I could kiss him, but he’s in Australia and my lips don’t reach that far.
Because there are written extras by Matt, Justin, William Pauley III, and my awesome friend Kerry Cullen, who happens to be a really brilliant writer herself.
Because Chuck Copeland will give me a stern talking to if it doesn’t sell as many copies as he has determined it should sell. He won’t tell me how many that is, but I assume it’s over eight and less than twenty-two.
Because it’s a thinly-veiled tribute to my ailing hero, Tim Smith, and the music he made with his beautiful band, Cardiacs. Tim’s a lovely person who made lovely music and I wanted to thank him for that.
Because I got a tattoo of an image from the book and I’ll feel pretty dumb if nobody buys it.
Because books are made to be read, and with all the other options out there, it would put a big ol’ smile on my face to know that somebody read mine.
Thank you.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias

New Bizarro Author Series Review #30: The Church of TV as God by Daniel Vlasaty

by J.W. Wargo

Id Says:
HOOOOLLLLLLYYYYYY EMERGENCY BROADCASTING SYSTEM!!!! Everyone knows TV addicts are out there, but fucking television cultists praying in a house of screens? And now their zealous boobtube leader thinks he’s found their savior. Oh, great are the cable channel deity motherfuckers!

This cathode-ray of sunshine doesn’t know why his head is turning into a TV, he just knows it runs in the family. Working the night shift as security at his local cemetery probably helps keep the looky-loos to a minimum. His graveyard is pretty progressive, even has a plot specifically for appliances. Sometimes he wonders which section he’ll be buried in.

His stray dog roommate could give a shit, so long as the bologna keeps flowing and he doesn’t hear the dreaded “O” word coming from the dude’s mouth, that racist prick!
It’s only a matter of time before this bastard primetime preacher tracks this TV messiah down and forces him to help bring about the second coming of the Great TV in the Sky. Static be praised!

Ego Says:

Jeremy is not a willing participant in this Second Coming, I would say. Though on some level he probably sees a rational side to the Church’s prophecy, I mean he is inexplicably turning into an bonafide, wood paneled, knob turning, old school styled television set, he still rejects the actions taken by the Church and their leader to make the prophecy a reality.

I will say, as well, that as far as Cult leaders go, the man in white is on the saner side of things. He claims direct contact and communication from the Great TV, and Jeremy’s existence appears to corroborate this, enough for his congregation to believe him without question.

I would think the only possible exception to being totally committed to the Great TV’s will could be Randall, though this is due to his dim-wittedness rather than any doubt, self or otherwise. He is the older brother of the man in white and someone I thought was underused in this story. I say this because there were moments when his role could have been better characterized, but he was left more or less one dimensional in his part.

A much more fully developed character, and my favorite one in this book, was that of Benjamin, the stray dog nearly run over by Jeremy who becomes his friend and new roommate. Benjamin is a talking dog, and his profanity spewing mouth is put to great use throughout the story, bringing humorous elements to even the most disturbing of scenes.

Super-Ego Says:
To my mind, the title of Mr. Vlasaty’s debut book is one of the more intriguing phrases I have heard in some time. A simple premise, God is Television, and this is the Church of that ideal. And you can be assured there is no lack of televisions in this story. The church itself is made of TVs, the walls made up in stacks of light boxes, the altar a giant flatscreen, and the chairs each church member sits upon glow bright with a multitude of moving images.

And while the imagery is as expected, the result of such an idea is probably the strongest point of the book. Religion can be an addiction, and faith can be placed on most anything. When you think of the masses huddled around their screens every Sunday for the big game, is it really that hard to imagine a religious faith building up around it?

In fact, no matter how bizarre the actions of the congregation become in trying to bring about the physical realization of their God, it never becomes discreditably ludicrous. One may even grow a rational fear in pondering this, and the author may start to look more like a prophet than a fiction storyteller.

————-

Enjoy the review? Pick up a copy of the book at Amazon!

J.W. Wargo is a writer and author of his own NBAS book, Avoiding Mortimer, which deals with the difficult subjects of suicide, the afterlife, and proper mixtape gifting etiquette. You can also read about the crazy shit he gets into while hitchhiking the world over at Imperial Youth Review.

Flash Fiction Friday: A Textbook Killing

by Bix Skahill

“I don’t know nothing about Mr. Pedersen’s truck.”

“You don’t know anything about Mr. Pedersen’s truck.”

“That’s what I said.”

Glaring down at the man kneeling and shaking on the abandoned warehouse floor, Muller sighed and shifted the bloody, bulky textbook to his left hand, then back. “What you said was a double negative, which really pisses me off. Just like when people lie to me. Now, tell me what happened to Mr. Pedersen’s truck before I get angry and go all textbook on your ass.”

The huddled man, Kramer, looked up at Muller. His thin face was thick with tears.

Kramer had good reason to be scared shitless. It was a well-known fact that Muller was the most dangerous (and best read) hitman in all of Keokuk, Iowa.

“But I swear, I didn’t have nothing, I mean, I didn’t have anything to do with Mr. Pedersen’s truck going missing. Me and Clams was playing poker all night.”

“Clams and I, we were playing poker all night.”

“No, that ain’t true, Clams was with me.”

Muller rubbed the back of his neck. “I was simply correcting… forget it. Also, please keep in mind that ‘ain’t’ isn’t a word in our language. I should know, I used to teach English at Our Mother of Peace High School.”

It was a surprisingly lateral move from high school teacher to hitman. Just a few years prior Muller was Mr. Muller, textbook English teacher: thick glasses, thin corduroys, empty wallet. Then, one fateful afternoon, Michael Bradley, a student in his language arts class, came swaggering into his classroom after the final bell had tolled. The young man came to complain about the grade he’d received on his Ethan Frome paper, which, although he couldn’t prove this, Mr. Muller was fairly certain someone else had penned. Though he kept that opinion to himself. He also kept to himself the fact that he violently despised Michael Bradley. The boy was everything Mr. Muller wasn’t as a teen. Popular and muscular with tons of shiny white teeth and shiny blonde hair. He wore a letter jacket overburdened with accolades and his sole form of locomotion was to swagger. But the most egregious thing about Bradley was the woeful way in which he treated the English language. He communicated exclusively with grunts, shrugs, acyrologia, mumbling, malapropisms, spoonerisms, slang and the occasional snarl.

For a few minutes Mr. Muller sat there and listened to the boy carp about his grade (while butchering the Mother Tongue) when, finally, Mr. Muller simply snapped. He stood, screamed Here’s a gift from Noah Webster, and struck Bradley across the forehead with a handy copy of the class textbook Language Arts Today!

A ballet of blood sprayed as the moronic jock crumpled, dead before he hit the floor. As the teacher surveyed the carnage at his feet, instinct sat down in Mr. Muller’s driver’s seat. He felt no panic, no rush of fear. He knew exactly what had to be done and he did it. After mopping up the copious blood with the boy’s letter jacket, he dragged the body through the vacant halls of the school and down to the janitor’s “office”. He folded the corpse into the massive furnace and turned up the heat. Watching the body burn, burn.

Not only did Mr. Muller get away with the crime scot-free, he wasn’t even question in connection to the boy’s disappearance.

Realizing that he had a talent for this killing thing (and tired of trying to make ends meet on a teacher’s salary), Mr. Muller contacted his cousin Rocco, who had some ties to the vast and violent Keokuk underworld. Within weeks, the teacher became a gun for hire, though he never used a gun.

Waving his arms above his head as if he were fighting off an invasion of invisible bats, Kramer said, “Sorry, sorry, I’ll never use the word ‘ain’t’ again.”

“That’s more like it. So, let us return to your alibi.”

“Yeah, sure, like I said, Clams and I were playing poker in the back room at Manelli’s.”

“And if I were to call Manelli and inquire about this supposed poker game, he’d corroborate your story?”

“Co-what?”

“Back-up.”

“Well, sure, but irregardless of what he says, it’s the truth.”

“’Regardless’ means ‘despite the prevailing circumstances,’ you clod. When you use the word ‘irregardless,’ you’re basically saying ‘despite despite the prevailing circumstances’.”

Shifting his weight from foot to foot, Muller sighed heavily. He thumbed the pages of his bloodstained copy of Language Arts Today! The pages fell like paper guillotines. Some killers were knife lovers, some gun nuts, but Muller strongly believed in the power of the word. It was a well-whispered secret in the Keokuk underworld that that bloodied, battered textbook had ended fourteen lives, Michael Bradley having just been the first.

“Okay, okay, Jesus, Muller, you’re a tough grader.”

The killer let out a mirthless laugh, which echoed around the abandoned warehouse; the same thing had been said about him back in his distant Our Mother of Peace days.

Kramer continued, “Yes, if you ask Manelli, he should corroborate the fuck out of my story. But, despite the prevailing circumstances, if he don’t–.”

“Doesn’t.”

“Right, right. If he doesn’t, then he’s the one lying, not me.”

“So, all these rumors I’ve been hearing about you switching sides and going to work for Tommy Cho, those are all lies too?”

“Yeah! I ain’t working, I mean, I’m not working for that dirty chink. Regardless of what anyone says, Mr. Pedersen is my penultimate boss.”

Muller literally growled. “Oh Kramer, you’ve just made another very common but annoying mistake. ‘Penultimate’ doesn’t mean the last one, it means the second to the last one. The word you’re looking for, I believe, is ‘ultimate’.”

“No, teach, I ain’t wrong, I got the right word.”

Somehow, Kramer suddenly had a gun in his hand. Small, dark, deadly. Before Muller could even raise Language Arts Today! in defense, Kramer fired. Light filled the darkened warehouse, pigeons in the rafters took flight.

The bullet, unconcerned by avian reaction, ripped through the textbook and still had the audacity to tear into Muller’s stomach.

The killer, gravely wounded, stumbled backward. Punched and shocked. He so wanted to criticize Kramer for using ‘ain’t’ although he had specifically told him not to, but found that he’d lost the ability, and perhaps even the will, to speak.

Now smiling a crooked smile, Kramer stood. The gun, cooling, floated before him.

“You don’t even remember me, do you, Mr. Muller?”

The former teacher studied the man who’d shot him but there was not much light left in his eyes.

Kramer continued, “Kramer ain’t my real name, it’s Sealing, Kenny Sealing. I was in your homeroom. I had braces, real bad acne. I idolized Michael Bradley, he was my first crush. I even wrote his Ethan Frome paper. That’s why I was just outside your room when you done him in with that damned textbook. I was fucking devastated to say the least. But I decided to not go to the cops cause I wanted to take care of you myself. And now, after all these years of the long con, I’ve finally got revenge for the love of my life.”

Using the last of his strength, Muller looked down and saw that his stomach and beloved, murderous textbook were soaked with his own blood. “I ain’t… I ain’t gonna make it.”

“No, you ain’t. This here is for Michael Bradley!”

And with the howl, Kramer put one in Muller’s brain. A textbook killing.

—–
Bix Skahill got shot in the face in Fargo. He wrote a book called Babes in Gangland, which is a title he evidently appropriated from the Penthouse Hot Talk Magazine, January /February 1990 issue. He also has great hair.

Twisted Tuesdays: Semana Santa

capiriote09

Also known as “Holy Week” this Catholic festival takes place before Easter every year in parts of Spain and Latin America.

If you have watched “American Horror Story: Coven” the creepy pointed hoods in the intro will be familiar:

Referred to as capirotes, these cloaks are used by Nazarenos which are chosen penitents of a sacred Catholic brotherhood. The color of their vestments and the sigil they wear depends on which brotherhood they belong to.

DSCF9322

by Carlos Márquez

by Carlos Márquez

The Semana Santa procession is grand to say the least, with thousands of people gathering around the churches, holding up elaborate religious floats, Jesus on a cross, and an army of pointed hooded figures holding candles and scepters…it’s like a scene from some medieval Illuminati movie or Holy Mountain.

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semana santa procession

by Josef Koudelka

by Josef Koudelka

nazarenos_1

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Jose Ortiz Echague, 1940

Jose Ortiz Echague, 1940

This year Semana Santa takes place April 13-20.

Dilation Exercise 100

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Pricilla’s father saw himself as a macho ranch-hand and was insecure without the trappings of his vocation.


Unaware of her hydrocephalic condition as she prepared for her dance recital, she placed his hat upon her head as a lark, and the mistake almost cost Pricilla her life.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Screaming Handful’” copyright © 1980 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.

Flash Fiction Friday: Mutagon II (Excerpt)

by Jamie Grefe

Ned is at the Chevy-Levy coffee house, hidden among those night alleys, between chicken-on-a-stick standing bars, shady karaoke joints, porn shops, and used vinyl bins. He likes it here. Other than the desert, here a man can still think.

Grime on the tabletop, white dust. The smell of roast beans. He tucks himself into a table by the window, slams three of the best espressos in Troilus and scans the room for his contact. He’s waiting for The Shingle, one of Floyd’s top admin goons, to show up and waste more of his time. He runs a fingertip across the rim of the leftmost cup.

Vinyl clicks, blurts sheets of guitar fuzz, coats the dive in a wet rumble. Xu Fan, the man with a television for every freak to get their rocks off on; he mime-points a remote at the sky. “Power off,” Ned says. “Lay it down, lay it down,” he sings, not noticing the vintage set in the corner of the coffee shop, the one broadcasting an unmoving shot of a single palm tree on a stormy morning, just swaying there, before it cuts to—bugs breeding, writhing, chewing skin.

Three men argue in a foreign tongue from a corner table. A guy they call Brown throws a busted Operation board game to the ground. His arms flail like a chicken mime. The board game’s innards clack, click and the fool pulls at his own hair, howls, too lit up on crack or smack or windowpane to care.

“Hi, Suzie, how’s the water?” someone says in a warbled voice, too slow. A tattooed woman in a nurse’s uniform waters tulips outside the joint, smock covered in checkered streaks like lines of spattered grace. She grins like a vampire, curtsies in front of the window. Ned looks away, folds his hands in prayer, closes his eyes.

One second later, those eyes blink. The Shingle sits across from him: portly pig of a man, ratty goatee down to his gut, bad suit and tie with a scar running from cheek to hairline as if a leech smacked his face and never left. He places a manila envelope on the table, pushes it toward the three empty espresso cups.

“Days like this are meant for hosing. Don’t you think so, Houston?” he says. “Ever hosed on the DarkGil dime?”

“I keep myself occupied,” Ned says, opening the envelope, sliding out a black and white glossy of Xu Fan bending to get in a limousine. Pose, frozen, quiet. Ned studies, digests the image. Got it. From the photograph, Xu Fan looks old, wispy mustache old: chin wrinkles, a debonair elder shot stiff in the frame of some secret paparazzi flare. Ned lets a slip of paper drop from the envelope.

The Shingle’s finger stabs it, says: “Johnny H. on the line, compadre.”

Ned deadpans The Shingle, trying not to disappear in that pigface visage. The Shingle holds out a ball pen. Ned thumbs it from him like magic, twirls and lets it hit the dotted line. He doesn’t sign.

“Understand these new terms, yes?” The Shingle says. “Updated and unabated.”

“What new terms?” Ned says, scanning fine print, ignoring the howls of a man across the room with a chunk of Troilus lodged in his gut. “Wasn’t told about no new terms.”

The Shingle leans back, meaty hands spider to his lapels, push open his suit coat. A katana, black handled grip, juts out his side—evil music swells. “This,” he says, stroking the hilt, “is my cute Japanese girlfriend. I keep her here for when things go,” he chuckles, says this with the most annoying clarity, “awry.”

“Asshole.”

“I got her from Mr. Floyd. Kind of a company perk.” He’s stroking her now, flicks his tongue. “She wrangles folks. Prevents them from not fulfilling an operation or having second thoughts like not finishing an operation or cutting short an operation. She’s a sucker for operations.”

“Second thoughts—?”

“Floyd advised me to introduce my girl when one’s operation is of the utmost, and I mean the utmost, importance to DarkGil interests. You understand, a man of the proverbial cloth, ever faithful to the kill, ever fulfilling of employment obligations, as you are, Ned Houston.”

Ned keeps eyes locked on The Shingle, scribbles a squiggly on the dotted line, sets the pen on the table. “Here,” he says, “are your new terms.” But, at that moment, a city breeze—or a potent nostril gust from Ned—whisks the paper to the floor, just inches from The Shingle’s stupid loafers. “Pardon me,” Ned says. “Drafty in here, isn’t it?” A tiny plastic heart from the board game skitters under the table, vanishes.

“Should stick you just for making me bend—” and The Shingle, reaching down, grunts for the signature, has no time to react. Ned fistfuls his hair, shoves face to tabletop, pinning him there, pressing hard, forearm to the side of his head. With his other hand, Ned jams an empty espresso cup into The Shingle’s eye, pulls up on the eyelid, so the dirty cup mashes soft pulp. He pushes. No one in the joint notices, but someone is singing a lullaby in Dutch, something about unrequited love, perhaps.

Ned: “Try and scream, pig. I’ll turn your eye into French drip.” Silence. The Shingle wheezes, chokes. “If I catch you flashing your girlfriend in front of me again—indecent exposure—I’m going to make sure she spends the rest of her pathetic life on a journey from your ass to the tip of your tongue, then we’ll all be mute, licking steam.”

The Shingle writhes his pig-body, but Ned has him in a bind, is bent so close to him each whispered word sounds like a death scream: “It’s been quite a ride. With stains like you going around intimidating DarkGil talent, the company is sure to stink a fart to Friday. And, yes, I’m gone, sucker. Unabated.”

Bam—Ned shoves The Shingle, rises from the table. Snatch envelope, snatch photo, and head for the exit.

____

Jamie Grefe is the author of THE MONDO VIXEN MASSACRE (Eraserhead Press, 2013). His second novella, MUTAGON II, is forthcoming from Holy Mountain Outreach, an imprint of Dynatox Ministries. Grefe’s short fiction appears in New Dead Families, elimae, and other fine places. Find him at: http://shreddedmaps.tumblr.com

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